Hi, friends. It’s that time of year where we apparently start falling in love: the Valentine season. Hallmark decided to capitalize on it with a small burst of films dubbed the Countdown to Valentine’s Day. Trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice, eh Hallmark? So, I’m gonna look at the three original films they’ve bestowed upon us.
The first one is called Valentine in the Vineyard which is the third film in a series I’ve never heard of. It stars Rachel Leigh Cook from She’s All That. (Everyone guess what era I grew up in!) The shortiest synopsis is below:
Back for the third installment, Frankie and Nate manage life on the vineyard and plan a wedding in secret! Starring Rachael Leigh Cook and Brendan Penny.
We begin with a bird’s eye view of the titular vineyard and a very Hallmark cover of the song One Fine Day. Rachel Leigh Cook’s character Frankie is talking to a llama about doing field work. She wants the llama to either pull its weight or entertain her. The llama does nothing. She is met by her boyfriend Nate, played by the guy from the infuriatingly titled Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe. He talks to the llama, too.
After a brief llama conversation, Nate summons a drone which carries a romantic gift.
Nate drops down on one knee and proposes. I thought they were married because they bought a vineyard together, but that just reveals my outdated views about property ownership. Frankie says yes. The llama continues to do nothing which is appropriate.
Frankie goes to a classroom because she is secretly a student. She plans on graduating from college as a Valentine’s gift for Nate. Meanwhile, Nate is digging a hole with his brother Gabe and a bunch of other people. He’s taking a special farming class to surprise Frankie for Valentine’s Day as well. Nate’s brother isn’t digging (I’m available for shows btw) this class and complains the whole few minutes he’s fake farming. He tells Nate he can’t make it for family dinner, but Nate convinces him otherwise.
At family dinner, while everyone is still setting the table, another couple (Nate’s other brother, Marco, and Frankie’s cousin, Lexi) announces their engagement. Due to some manufactured reasons, they’re getting married on Valentine’s Day which is only a few weeks away.
With thunder suitably stolen, Nate and Frankie have a meeting in the kitchen. They agree not to announce their big news and just keep it a secret with the llama.
The two couples have a fairly extravagant lunch at home (I suspect there’s servants somewhere) and talk about the impending nuptials. The other couple mentions that they took a compatibility test to ensure that they were ready to get married and it revealed that they were perfect for each other. Bit crazy to rely on Cosmo quizzes for life decisions, but whatever floats your boat. This plants a seed of doubt and distress in Nate and Frankie.
While planning this WASPy wedding, the parents of the bride and groom bicker. The one thing they do agree on is that Marco and Lexi are “the perfect pairing.” This freaks out Nate and Frankie enough to do a compatibility seminar.
At the seminar, Nate and Frankie suck at being a couple. To be fair, the workshop is run in a haphazard and stressful manner. The coordinator interrupts couples doing the assigned timed tasks with random questions like, “What is your perfect Valentine’s Day? A, B, or C?”
After a few days, they get results that say they’re a terrible couple. While reeling from the news, perfect couple Marco and Lexi arrives to annoy them. They’re still having trouble with selecting the right wedding venue. Frankie and Nate save the day by offering their vineyard.
At college class, Frankie and her friend, Grace, talk about repairing the incompatible relationship. Frankie remembers that the seminar provided a list of activities for struggling couples. She selects planning a spontaneous dinner which flies in the face of spontaneity. Meanwhile, at farming class, Nate mistakenly tells Gabe that he’s also engaged. Now that’s spontaneous. Good work, Nate.
Both Frankie and Nate go to separate wedding planning meetings and then quickly leave so that they can go to Frankie’s pre-planned spontaneous dinner date at their “favorite spot.” Frankie told Nate that she was cooking, but Nate interprets this differently. Apparently, when Frankie says she’ll cook, he’s the one that always ends up doing it because she can’t actually cook. It’s confusing. In a dumb twist, they don’t know what the favorite spot is, and both spend the night alone with a homemade meal at picnic tables.
The couple continues to experience mishaps in their relationship because of that damaging seminar. They decide to do another one of the seminar’s suggested activities. Which one, you ask? It’s a zipline called the Leap of Love. The seminar is a Scientology level scam.
If that crappy seminar wasn’t enough, Lexi tells her cousin that she considers Frankie and Nate to be the gold standard of relationships. Frankie is stressed. She’s so stressed that she freaks out during a mini-golf game and before a big college exam. Nate is less bothered but worried about Frankie.
As part of the lead up to the wedding, the family holds a mock-Newlywed Game that further demonstrates how much Frankie and Nate don’t know pointless things about each other. The universe appears to hate this couple. The humiliation boils over to the point that Nate blurts out the details of the secret engagement. Good job again, Nate.
The party has a bit of a record scratch moment, but it’s all cool. The family is happy with the news. Someone even claps for them. In fact, the party is so delighted with the second engagement that Lexi suggests that they have a double wedding. Nate and Frankie kind of get bullied into the idea. Blam-o. Double wedding.
We get a montage of Nate and Frankie calling various suppliers in an effort to jam themselves into their family members’ wedding. It goes pretty poorly since Valentine’s Day is only two weeks away!
Later at Nate’s farming class, he learns that instincts are important. Frankie is having her own revelation at college. She feels that the seminar didn’t really mean anything and that her relationship is actually pretty solid. While breaking through, she gets a text informing her that she is now a college graduate.
All is well in the world…except during a pre-wedding toast, each family member gets a weather alert text. (Side question: do families that are planning outdoor weddings all subscribe to weather alerts in the event something happens?) There’s frost on the horizon and there are not enough heaters to save the vineyard. Again, something is hellbent on sabotaging this couple.
While woefully discussing this new issue, Nate spies Frankie’s framed diploma on the kitchen counter, spoiling his Valentine’s Day surprise. Because of this, he is forced to give his diploma for that “farming with intuition” class. When explaining to Frankie what that means, Nate begins to figure out the answer to the vineyard problem. Frankie chimes in and off they go to save a future glass of wine for a drunk housewife.
It’s the day of the big double wedding. Unfortunately, due to all the stress, the couple is too worried to go through with it, so they cancel their portion of the wedding. Although we’re under the impression that the family is ok with this decision, the parents give heartfelt speeches in an effort to get them to do it. Nate and Frankie are bullied into an early marriage yet again.
While Nate and Frankie think about getting married again, Lexi and Marco have a breakdown of their own and are on the verge of canceling it altogether. People flew into town for this crappy wedding, so someone better say I do! God, these people are so selfish.
Anyway, we also learn that Marco and Lexi flunked the compatibility test which proves my theory that the whole thing was scam and these losers fell for it. They lied to Frankie and Nate about it because they felt small in front of the real perfect couple. Lexi and Marco shouldn’t get married for loads of reasons.
Frankie and Nate stroll through the vineyard and discover that their plan worked. The vineyard is saved. They’re so hot for each other after seeing a bud that they get married.
Both couples get married, the vineyard is saved, the couples kiss. FIN.
I sort of jumped into this series without knowing much. They mentioned a few times that Nate is very science oriented while Frankie is…normal? She didn’t really have an “intuition” personality, so I didn’t pick up on the opposites attract vibe. I say this because there was a lot more telling than showing when it came to the character’s personalities. I just wonder if it was really drilled home in a previous installment and the writers just didn’t care to keep shoehorning ways for Nate to wear a lab coat. The couple felt like they could be a nice team, but the film kept jamming in contrived scenes of how “bad” their relationship was. Bit of a shame since I didn’t hate them. Apart from that, it was fine for a Hallmark Valentine’s film.
- This film needed way more llama.
- JULIA WISE is in this! But I guess it’s a witness protection thing because she goes by a completely different name and character.
- I took a Buzzfeed compatibility quiz with my partner because I hate myself. He knows a lot about me. I didn’t do his, but I’m pretty sure I would’ve failed it.
- Nate and Frankie spent the film trying to get their vineyard in good order. That seems like a Herculean task for only two people.
- Never thought I’d have to skip over a tertiary love story. Hallmark surprises me yet again.
- Dead family member alert: Frankie’s mom and Nate’s dad
- Do priests charge more for double weddings?
- I hope neither one of these couples gets divorced because that would make talking about their wedding pretty awkward for the other couple.